Cows, goats and oxen, they are all you see these days. If you were to raise your gaze upwards to the sky, you would see these animals laughing down at you as they look upon you from their perch. These animals are not meant for pedestrians or people who drive small cars, like you and I. They are actually meant for those who drive around in Land Cruisers; these people will also go to heaven riding atop big animals, much like their big cars, where the traffic will stop for them. “Let the Sahab pass first, the lesser fortunate can wait.”
This is the era of the corporate sacrifice. Just like those oxen, the Sahabs’ bodies too have bloated, layers of fat have developed around the eyes and their paunch is uncontrollable. It is altogether a different matter that these Sahabs go to their elite gyms everyday, sweat a little and socialise with others like them at the gym. There are five to 10 vehicles waiting outside the gym for them as they socialise inside, protecting them from any kind of threat.
These days, you can see animals on the billboards too; whose names say it all. If the Sahabs were to ride on top of a Badshah, Undertaker, Arabian Horse, Wadera, Gentleman, Handsome and Black Tiger, the doors of heaven will unquestionably open wide for them.
Earlier, people would start thinking about getting an animal just a day or two before Eid. Now, everything starts at least a month before Eid; there are huge advertisements in the newspapers. Even bookings are being made. You now have the option of getting your sacrificial meat butchered by highly educated butchers, wrapped in corporate packing and transferred to your doorstep. Why do you bother then? When everything happens online; love, friendship, enmity and even revolutions – you must take advantage of the online sacrifice too. Animals are available on the Internet along with their names, descriptions and abilities. Their photographs too are taken from various angles. Choose your sacrificial animal and have your family ‘like’ them, all on Facebook alone. Of course the prices are reasonable, according to your status, ranging from thousands to lacs.
You can also make your payments online. For your convenience, you may pay in Pakistani Rupees, Pound Sterling or the US Dollar. You can use credit cards, bank transfers or even PayPal. To revive your faith, Justice Mufti Taqi Usmani’s fatwa regarding the Islamic use of the credit card is also available for your perusal online now. So there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Save yourself from the dirt, dust and the stench of dung, not to mention saving, above all your precious time. Sit in your air-conditioned rooms, enjoy your coffee and shop online for your bakra or cow.
There are also websites of various cattle farms available online. If you don’t understand anything on those, there’s still always Facebook. Log in, choose from the numerous animals and simply order it. Stay home and enjoy the qurbani. People seem to be earning supplementary blessings through Facebook these days. Someone will post anything related to religion and ask you to “like” it and repost the picture in order to receive said blessings. So, everybody jumps on the bandwagon to earn as many blessings as they can. This has also been going on mobile phones for a long time now: Forward this message to 10 people and your blessings will increase tenfold, while your sins will decrease by defualt.
What does the poor goat know about its photograph posted on Facebook and how many people have ‘liked’ it. But now it’s not just about the Facebook photographs anymore. We can also find live recordings of the sacrifice being made on YouTube. What kind of vicious satisfaction people get from watching again and again an animal lying soiled in its own blood, only they can tell.
Once, on the day of the Bakra Eid, I went to a nearby store to buy something with my children. On the way, we saw a sacrifice taking place in a nearby street, that too of a camel. The poor camel was lying soiled in its own blood while a crowd stood around it and people recorded the entire sacrifice on cameras. I quickly changed my direction so that the scene would not leave its mark on my children’s innocent minds. But what do I do now? Not only do people post videos of animal sacrifices on YouTube, there are videos showing human beings being sacrificed too. And then they are the ones who ban YouTube.
Even though, this corporate sacrifice is all around us, we mustn’t forget the actual sacrifice that is going to be made around us. Those poor people who are unable to afford even a chicken to sacrifice in this time of inflation, but they must cross the Pulsirat too. There was a time when people used to buy a goat for a few thousand rupees. Now the minimum cost of goats is Rs. 10,000. Forget a buying a full goat, they cannot even fathom buying a portion of it, as only portions of bigger animals are advertised. Banners hanging around all over the place, only speak of shares in cows and oxen – no goats.
The ones who first only held authority over sacrificial hides have now started to put up banners asking people to get a share in the sacrificial animals that they will provide. Your skin will be flayed later; first you must become a shareholder in the sacrifice. The meat will be sent to your home anyway. Why are you getting bothered about hiring butchers on Eid day? They have their own highly experienced butchers at hand. All you need to do is to pay them your share and they will help you to the cross the Pulsirat.
These days shopping for knives, feed for the animals, as well deep freezers and refrigerators is in full swing. All cars are heading towards animal markets that have now, for your convenience been raised in every nook and corner of the city. What is this poor that you speak of? For them, the leftovers are more than enough. But for us, we will freeze all the meat so we can enjoy roasts and hunter beef to our heart’s content. After all, when do you expect us to enjoy meat if we can’t even enjoy it on Eid?
The only thing that worries me is what will happen to the poor who seem to be destined for leftovers and have already been flayed themselves? They can hardly become shareholders in a sacrificial animal on a budget of one or two thousand rupees. Which animal will help them cross the Pulsirat then? The rich can get their sins washed off by performing Hajj and Umrah and return cleaner and newer than ever before; then they can sacrifice well-fed animals in a bid to cross the Pulsirat. But will the poor just continue standing under the Pulsirat, watching them cross it?
The author has dabbled in every form of the visual arts. An activist to the core, Abro’s work deals with social themes and issues ranging from human rights to dictatorial regimes. He is currently working for DAWN as an illustrator.